(INDIANAPOLIS) – Governor Holcomb has vetoed the bill inserting county commissioners into local emergency health orders.
The bill would have required commissioners’ blessing for local health orders stricter than what’s in effect statewide. Holcomb says the state has sometimes had to make pandemic decisions on an “hour-to-hour” basis, and says the response has been shaped in part by the knowledge that counties could tailor their own orders to local conditions. He says the bill would jeopardize the ability to respond quickly to COVID-19 or future disease outbreaks where speed may be critical.
Holcomb says a second provision letting violators appeal shutdown orders to the commissioners has the same problem. He says it creates a “cumbersome
process which “threatens the possibility of dangerous delays for necessary local enforcement.”
Holcomb’s veto message says he “might understand” the rationale for the bill if there had been clashes between health departments and local officials over the last year, but says those conflicts have been rare.
The veto is Holcomb’s third of the session, and the second of a bill sparked by the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Legislators have already overridden his veto of a bill allowing them to call themselves back into session to review emergency declarations — Holcomb is now trying to challenge that law’s constitutionality in court.
Legislators have set aside Monday for a possible one-day session to address any typos or veto overrides that can’t wait until next year’s session. They’ll also be returning sometime this fall to deal with redistricting, and could take up the veto any time between now and then.